Members of Stewbo's celebrate the company being named the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce's 2014 Small Business of the Year. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
Small Business Awards Celebration
The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes excellence in small business.
ALBANY — Local restaurant group Stewbo’s was named Albany’s Small Business of the Year on Tuesday night at the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Small Business Celebration, which was held at the Albany Museum of Art.
This year, the chamber small business resources committee, which reviews nominees and picks the winner, narrowed the finalists down to seven businesses, which included, Diark Inc., Southern Point Staffing LLC, Break Away Cycles, Hughey & Newman Inc., Smallcakes, DarkoTech Inc. and Stewbo’s.
Each of the seven businesses was honored at the event, with chamber board chairman Jim Deal explaining the importance of small business in the community.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our community, and indeed our nation,” Deal said. “It is fitting that we take this opportunity to thank all of you for your many contributions to the quality of life that we enjoy in Albany and Dougherty County. Small businesses are the heart and soul of America’s Free Enterprise System.”
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Albany Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Hardy echoed Deal’s sentiments, adding that small businesses were not only the backbone of the community and nation, but of the chamber itself.
“Small business actually makes up well over 85 percent of our base. It’s actually in excess of 90 percent,” said Hardy. “Small businesses; if you take away that aspect of our organization, we don’t exist. That’s what we are, that’s who we are.”
Before the announcement of the small business of the year, guests mingled with nominees and enjoyed music provided by M&N Acoustic, featuring local musicians Charlie Meyer and Tina Natoli, and heavy hors d’ ouvres provided by BJ’s Buffett.
The highlight of the evening, however, was the announcement of Stewbo’s as Albany’s 2014 Small Business of the Year. The restaurant group, owned by Bo Henry and Stewart Campbell of Albany, owns and operates Harvest Moon, The Catch, Henry Campbell’s and Merry Acres. Stewbo’s also is in the process of developing a new drive-in restaurant at Dawson Road and Meredyth Drive.
Henry, who started in the restaurant business nearly 15 years ago when he opened the original Harvest Moon in downtown Albany, referenced those early days while telling the crowd how pleased he was that the business has been accepted by the residents of Albany over the years.
“I had never even worked in a restaurant when I opened the Harvest Moon; I knew nothing about it,” said Henry. “The people of Albany gave me chance after chance after chance. We were downtown and trying to do something for Albany and do something for ourselves and the people of Albany have been really good to us.
“Stewart came along a few years later and he was a perfect fit. We had one restaurant then and together we’ve (continued to grow) and have enjoyed doing everything we’ve done. Both of us are from Albany and we love Albany, Georgia. We do really feel honored with this.”
Campbell, who typically defers to Henry as the spokesman of the company, took the opportunity to also thank the entire Stewbo’s family of employees for its hard work to make the company successful.
“I really don’t say a lot in our organization,” Campbell said. “But I would like to thank all the people that aren’t here and are at work right now in all of our establishments. Cathy (Odell), the manager at Merry Acres, should be here, but she’s at the hotel. Those are the kind of people that have made us what we are. I want to thank those people. And we want to thank you all for honoring us. We feel very privileged.”
This year, to coincide its yearlong initiative around improving customer service, the chamber also awarded the special Innovative Customer Service Award to Break Away Cycles.